Pope Benedict is resigning at the end of this month making him the first pontiff to choose to leave the papacy in nearly 60 years.
The pope has less than a month left in his position, with February 28th at 8PM set to be the pope's last day as the Holy Father.
Erie Catholic Diocese Bishop Lawrence Persico says he was shocked when he heard the news.
During a meeting with the cardinals, Pope Benedict said in Latin: "Both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months has deteriorated in me."
He's been leading the world's more than one billion Catholics after being chosen in 2005 to replace Pope John Paul The Second.
Bishop Persico reflected on Benedict's decision to step down this afternoon.
He says he was shocked when he heard the news because it's been 600 years since a bishop resigned.
He says as the "universal pastor", it was challenging for Benedict to keep up with the demands of the job.
Bishop Persico says Benedict's decision says a lot about his character, saying Pope Benedict showed an excellent example of selfless leadership.
Pope Benedict was the oldest to be appointed as pope at age 78.